The One Question You Need to Answer

Communications for multi-campus churches can present a unique set of problems. For starters, every campus will share some of the main church’s DNA in terms of branding, website, and central resources (i.e. financial and membership resources). Yet, tugging at the heart of each campus is the desire to make itself unique. Every campus wants to figure out what makes them different from all the other campuses. Is it the location? The building? Style of worship?

These are the types of questions that can keep a communications team up at night. With every little difference of a campus, you find something doesn’t scale (i.e. every campus has their own bulletin). And when things aren’t scaling, serving every campus equally can be near impossible.

So how do you rectify this problem? How do you get control of the situation and get a sense how to best serve all your campuses? Well, I think it can be done, and it starts with asking this question:

What’s your campus model?

Okay, so here’s what I mean about campus models. Are you in the type of campus model where every campus is exactly like the others? Does each feel almost identical when you walk in the door? Is the worship set the same at every campus? Is video preaching coming from the video?

Or is your campus one where each has its own unique look? Does each campus have a specific pastor that preaches the same sermon topics but in their own unique way? Does each campus have its own unique worship style?

If you’re struggling with the answer to the first question, try answering a second question. This second question may help better define your answer to the first question.

How much of your model is contextualized or continued on each campus?

For example, will you let campuses have small groups or will they call it Sunday School? Maybe the small groups language works in one environment and Sunday School works better in another environment. This is contextualization.

Will all campuses agree to a statement of faith? Will they all have the same reporting structure? If so, then this is continuity.

Now clearly these are black and white questions and we know that this isn’t really a black and white situation. That’s why when you’re answering these questions, you need to think of your answers like a sliding scale.

For example, you might determine that 20% of what all campuses are going to do is continuity and 80% of what they do is contextualization. So the 20% of continuity may be a statement of faith, sermon series, and overall branding. However, the rest is 80% contextualization, and we’ll let each campus figure that out.

By determining what is continuity vs. contextualization on some sort of scale, you can have conversations with other campuses that will help to better shape your communication processes.

If your team knows that 80% of each campus is contextualized, then they can know which branding elements need to be consistent and which ones can be customized for each campus.

At the end of the day, if your communications team has a clear idea of what the non-negotiables (continuity) are, then it makes their goals, objectives, and tasks all that much easier. So answer these two questions and save your team a lot of work.

Posted on February 16, 2021

Darrel Girardier serves as the Communications Director at Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, Tennessee where he oversees the digital, design and video production teams. Previously, he was a Creative Director at LifeWay Christian Resources.
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  • Our church just became a campus of another church and it is this question that has allowed us to move forward with clarity. Also being on the same page with this question can really prevent a lot of miscommunication.

  • Robert G Cleveland says on

    If you haven’t studied the Church of the Highlands, in Alabama, you ought to do that. They’ve grown from zero, to one of , the largest churches. in the USA, in 20 years.